Saturday, April 30, 2011

Podcasting in the Classroom

After learning about Podcasts and doing some research, I have found that implementing Podcasts into the curriculum can be a very motivating and exciting way to introduce new material. What I like about Podcasts is that they are being made everyday, giving very current news and opinions. As a teacher, I believe that keeping students updated with current happenings in the world is an aspect of our job that we have to take seriously. The one thing that comes to my mind is the tornado's that swept across Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, and parts of the Carolina's in the past couple of weeks. I found a Podcast titled, Tornadoes which was made by college students aiming towards third grade students. This Podcast talks explicitly about tornadoes, giving general information like where they primarily occur, how they form, and how deadly they really are. I would reflect on the event to my students, and then have them listen to this Podcast to learn more information about tornadoes. Teachers have to be flexible, and if something is happening on earth, it often gives time for a teachable moment, such as introducing tornadoes to children who may not know much about them. Furthermore, if I wanted to teach students how to use a podcast of their own, they could do something simple in response to the information learned such as actions they should take in case a tornado struck their area, etc.

Friday, April 8, 2011

ePaLs in the Classroom

If you are a teacher who enjoys advice from other experienced teachers on curriculum, fun activities, and successful lesson plans, then the ePaLs website is for you. ePaLs is a great tool to use when looking for a book to read in class, interactive lesson plans, engaging activities, the list goes on and on. Personally, although I try and make all of my lessons creative and engaging, I do not have that internal creativity that just comes to me. I look through all sorts of websites, collecting a lot of fun and educational activities that I find online. Although I like this website to help aide as a lesson plan builder, there are interactive activities for students to use as well. A great tool I found on this website is called in2books, which gives a student a pen pal to interact with on books they are currently reading in the classroom. The pen pals write back and forth, asking questions and giving opinions about every aspect of the book. ePaLs also posts questions for children to answer and post online, giving them accreditation for their thought out answers. This encourages and motivates children to take pride in their work and answers, especially because their writing will be up for others to view. Furthermore, one of the most influential aspects of this website is that teachers and students from all around the world are members of ePaLs. Sometimes children need the perspective of an outsider to help piece the puzzle together. This type of website allows both students and teacher to think outside of the box by the thoughts, comments, and perspectives of children who are the same age and grade, yet in different parts of the world. Whether you need help with creativity, curriculum, interactive activities, or motivation in the classroom, this website will be beneficial to you!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Study Abroad Italy Via Flickr and Pimpampum

I absolutely loved playing around with Flickr photos to upload onto Pimpampum. Pimpampum is an online site where users can use their own photos or photos they find on Flickr which can be used commercially to create comic strips, slideshows, and photo books that can be published for the Internet to view your work. This website is easy and quick to use, it allows you to insert text for blurbs above photos, and can be used in multiple ways. Although I did not use my own photos, I made a strip which documents some of the aspects of by experience studying abroad in Rome, Italy. Thinking from the perspective of a child, it was so much more fun and engaging using this site to write text and display pictures compared to the traditional book report or essay. Teachers can incorporate Pimpampum into the curriculum very easily, such as having students use this sight to create and publish a story with pictures, reflect on their favorite family vacations, book reports, a class photo album from memorable activities, etc. The possibilities are endless especially because it is such a great motivator for students. It is very difficult to get children to want to write whether it is reflectively, creatively, or academically. This site makes children so engaged that it does not seem like work, it really is pure pleasure and children will take great pride and ownership in it knowing that it is published for the world to see! Heck, I even had a ball going down memory lane putting together a strip about my European adventures. Here is my Pimpampum strip titled Study Abroad Italy which gives one example of all the fun that can take place inside of the classroom.

Creative Commons Licensing for Flickr by The U.S. Army, a photo by The U.S. Army on Flickr.
Do you enjoy taking photos? Have you taken photos that are noteworthy of sharing with others? Want to share your talent of photography and current interests with the world? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then becoming an active Flickr user is the smart way to go for you. In signing up with Flickr, users are able to post a plethora of pictures onto an online account where others can view, comment, and use for their own use. Now I know what many of you may be thinking, what about copy right laws? How can I protect my own work, yet share it with the public? Well Creative Commons Licensing for Flickr has attacked these issues to protect individual rights on photographs with various agreements that will meet all users needs. Are you a person who wants to share your photos with others, but want that photo to remain as is and your name to always be on it? Then this agreement is right for you. Users can see and print your photo, but it must remain in tact without revision and may not be used commercially.
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike- If you want others to not only see your photo, but to revise it and tweak it noncommercially, then this agreement is right for you. Users may revise your photo; however, your name will be copyrighted not only on the original version, but the revised version as well under the exact same terms.
Attribution-NonCommerical- In this license agreement, users can revise and tweak your photo noncommercially. Although your name will be copyrighted on the original, the new user must mention you in their new work but they do not have to license their new work under the same terms.
Attribution-NoDerivs- With this licensing agreement, your photo can be redistributed commercially or noncommercially as long as the photo remains in its original state and credit is given to the creator.
Attribution-ShareAlike- In this license agreement, users can tweak and revise your photo for commercial and noncommercial purposes as long as they give credit to the original publisher on all derivatives and follow the exact same terms as the original.
Attribution- This agreement is noted for the most accommodating of all licenses. In this agreement, users can redistribute, revise or tweak the original work commercially or noncommercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation.

As you can see, there are a variety of license agreements that Flickr users can choose from to meet the needs of all users. Creative Commons Licensing ensures that your photos are viewed, yet protected to the users protection of choice.

Monday, March 7, 2011


As Twitter becomes a global phenomenon, it is no wonder why businesses, organizations, and teachers are creating screen names and joining in on the activity. Where else can you market your ideas for free? Where else can you educate people about a noteworthy cause? Where else can you share great ideas that work in your classroom? Twitter is helping people of all walks of life interact and share ideas because it is fast, convenient, and information is constantly being added and transmitted to the public.
Twitter allows teachers to follow other educators and read their tweets about classroom activities, books to read in class, professional development dates coming up, etc. If you are interested in a topic, there is someone out there who will tweet lots of useful information regarding that topic which you can tweak and incorporate into ones own classroom. It is free resources at your fingertips. Better yet, you can respond to an article, ask a question regarding the topic, or share the article with friends who follow you. Twitter is as educational as you want it to be. The more time invested in finding great resources and tweeting other educators, the more successful your lessons will be.
Not only can Twitter be used as a professional resource, but many teachers are incorporating Twitter into lessons in the classroom. In the blog Twitter, by Purdue University Students, they suggest using Twitter as a simple form of communication between home and school. For instance, the teacher can tweet homework to remind students, or useful links that students may want to refer to for extra reinforcement. Students can also tweet thoughts or opinions on books they are reading, or questions if they need clarification. The teacher can also pose extra credit questions and the first to tweet back gets bonus points. In the blog post, You are Now Entering the Twitterverse by blog-o-licious, the post talks about using Twitter as a great way to get feedback and information first hand from authors of books you are reading in class. Students can pose questions and/or comment and get feedback from the person behind the pages. Likewise, students can create Twitter names for characters in the book and tweet in the characters voice, and playing around with language if it is from a different time period. The possibilities for active learning using Twitter are endless, and it is only a tweet away!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Junk can be a student's Treasure

In a world which is constantly developing, why do teachers continue to rely on teacher-directed instruction and textbooks that smell as old as they look? In the post, We need more "Junk" in the Classroom, from the blog, TeachPaperless, the blogger made a significant point about incorporating tangible materials and activities in the classroom. While at the museum, the bloggers children were engaged with hands-on activities that fostered creativity, imagination, and was extremely engaging. He had a hard time pulling his children away to see the rest of the museum. Now if only teachers could enhance lessons that we had a hard time pulling our students away, now that would be a great success.
When referring to "Junk" in the classroom, teachers often take fore-granted items that seem irrelevant to us, when they actually foster critical thinking, problem solving, and imagination. Students may look at old clocks, train collections, and old camera and become engaged and interested in learning it's story. Let children play and touch these objects that may mean nothing to you. To them, it may be the coolest thing they've ever seen.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ning- Another Educational Resource

While searching for a Ning which I could relate to on a professional level, I came across something that is every elementary teachers dream! The Ning, K-3 Teacher Resources Forum, is a great tool to use on so many levels. They talk about behavior management plans, children with special needs, literacy concerns, everyday name it, they talk about it. What is just as great is that there are printable's which you can print out and use in your own classroom, vocabulary words, ways to incorporate technology in the classroom, and educational websites. If a teacher is ever in a bind and needs worksheets, or seeks advice from experienced teachers on a certain topic, you get back many replies which will definitely help aide in an appropriate course of action. Just like Alan-Levine says, "We can't know it all," so seek assistance from someone who has that piece of knowledge you are missing!